What is Verse?
Verse is an interactive video player with a toolset that showcases non-linear, multimedia storytelling. Co-founders Antonio Bolfo and Michael Lanza, both award-winning professionals in their field, began work on Verse in 2014. Bolfo is a photographer with a background in film, animation and video game design. Lanza is a designer, journalist and photojournalist.
multimedia journalists, the co-founders saw limitations in how filmmakers,
photographers and artists could share their stories. Traditional online formats
felt incomplete and underdeveloped. They knew there had to be a better way.
The resulting platform sets a new standard for artful storytelling that combines emotional impact with measurable and meaningful engagement. It revolutionizes media by empowering anyone to create interactive video experiences that engage audiences.
How does it work?
The platform gives filmmakers the opportunity to add additional scenes and footage for the viewer to explore. Verse combines embedded, clickable hot spots, video slideshows and interactive interviews.
It has a user-friendly backend interface to create out of the box interactivity including chaptering and a pathfinder, so the user can choose their own adventure. American media outlets such as The Washington Post, Newsweek, and the New Yorker have used the platform.
Verse puts choice at the heart of video: non-linear storytelling; choose-your-own adventure narratives; in-video menus; and shopping. Interactive Q&As where the audience asks the questions. Geared toward narrative and graphical elements that include selectable plotlines, Verse puts the action squarely in the hands of the user.
Why did the founders make it?
Stories like Firestorm and Snowfall in 2013 conjured a new future of journalism. Bolfo created Verse to tell the kind of stories he loves – rich, immersive multimedia experiences – except without huge budgets and months-long development cycles.
Snowfall of the New York Times came out, everyone was like:
This is the future. The problem is, the
future is very expensive. Very few journalists produce these interactive online
stories because it’s way too expensive for anyone to make money off of it.”
This is one of the reasons why the founders made Verse. They realised that if these stories were to survive, you had to create a technology that was accessible.
Why did we select it?
We selected Verse for its innovative and creative tools within the video genre. Several stories created with the platform recently won a Webby, the leading international award honouring excellence on the internet. Established in 1996 during the Web’s infancy, The Webbys is presented by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences (IADAS).
In 2016 Set Wars: Tunisia’s battle for Star Wars’ legacy won a Webby – by people’s choice – for best use of interactive video. In that same year, Connected to the Top, a documentary about the 2012 North Face expedition to Mount Everest, was nominated in the category best user experience. The film served as an example of how the Verse platform could be used to endorse commercial brands.
In 2013 the Dutch journalist Jeroen van Tol and media designer Inge Beekmans had a similar idea. They created the platform Scrollytelling which enabled online stories for different journalistic customers in the Netherlands, like newspapers and broadcasters.
In September 2018 co-founder Van Tol decided to stop developing his software further for several of reasons, including outdated code. He joined another similar multimedia platform called Slices, which was released the same year. Both start-ups were funded by the Dutch Innovation Fund for Journalism.